It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives
It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (German: Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt) is a 1971 German camp film directed by Rosa von Praunheim. The plot follows the adventures of a young gay man from the province who arrives in Berlin. He gradually leaves behind his innocence led by his increasing appetite for excitement in the big-city gay scene. He moves from one gay milieu to another caught in his addiction for fashion and sexual experiences.
|It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives|
|Directed by||Rosa von Praunheim|
|Produced by||Werner Kließ|
|Cinematography||Robert van Ackeren|
|Edited by||Jean-Claude Piroué|
Scenes from Daniel's life and the various milieus he frequents are accompanied by voice-overs that are sometimes commentaries about the different gay life's styles and sometimes represent dialogue or narrations. There is no synch sound. The voice over and dialogue recorded do not match what is on the screen.
The reception of the film was controversial. Many viewed the harsh view of gay men culture depicted as such attack that it prompted the videotaping of a short, Audience Response to Its not the Homosexual…, shot during a screening and discussion interview with von Praunheim in 1973 at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and currently precedes many of the film's screenings. The film triggered the modern gay liberation movement in Germany.
Daniel, a young man from the provinces come to the city and moves from one gay subculture to the next. His adventures begin on the streets of Berlin, where the shy brunette Daniel meets the blonde Clemens, who invites him home for coffee and offers him a place to stay. Soon Daniel is living with Clemens and believes he has found the love of his life. The two try to imitate a bourgeois marriage and its lifestyle.
At a party, Daniel's rich lover, attracted to a singer, leaves him at the mercy of his old friends. Progressively disenchanted, Daniel realizes that he has been used as a plaything. Disgusted, Daniel moves out. He finds a modest place to live independently and begins to work in a gay café. Now surrounded by young gay men of his own age, he learns to dress fashionably with ostentatious outfits.
Daniel spends his free time at a sun terrace where young men entice each other with their good looks. Being attractive and in good shape becomes the most important thing. Meeting points for homosexuals are vanity fairs. They show themselves off hoping to attract the attentions of others. Daniel befriends Wolfgang, a young man from a better social background who he tries to emulate. They go to the beach together and share their experiences.
Living in Berlin for more than two years, Daniel is no longer content with meeting men in elegant cafés, boutiques, and beaches. Now, he seeks out pickups at the bars for quick sex. He becomes addicted to tantalizing adventures with unpredictable outcomes. He moves on to dark lit parks where older leather-men congregate. He finally descends to the public toilets where hustlers hang out as well as frustrated, closeted types and aging gays who are no longer attractive; the latter only end up being beaten by punks.
Gays rarely have difficulties connecting in big cities. It is easy for them to find men they can have sex with because they offer themselves on every street corner like whores. Out of fear of old age they believe they must live their youth to the fullest.
At a bar frequented by transvestites, Daniel meets Paul who takes him to his commune where a group of men, lying around naked, openly criticize their superficial, closeted lifestyles, sexual hang ups, fashion, and conformity. Calling for gay emancipation, they advocate social engagement and collective organization against discrimination.
Schwule wollen nicht schwul sein, sondern sie wollen so spießig sein und kitschig sein wie der Durchschnittsbürger. Sie sehnen sich nach einem trauten Heim, in dem sie mit einem ehrlichen und treuen Freund unauffällig ein eheähnliches Verhältnis eingehen können. Der ideale Partner muß sauber, ehrlich und natürlich sein, ein unverbrauchter und frischer Junge, so lieb und verspielt wie ein Schäferhund.
Da die Schwulen vom Spießer als krank und minderwertig verachtet werden, versuchen sie noch spießiger zu werden, um ihr Schuldgefühl abzutragen mit einem Übermaß an bürgerlichen Tugenden. Sie sind politisch passiv und verhalten sich konservativ als Dank dafür, dass sie nicht totgeschlagen werden.
Schwule schämen sich ihrer Veranlagung, denn man hat ihnen in jahrhundertelanger christlicher Erziehung eingeprägt, was für Säue sie sind. Deshalb flüchten sie weit weg von dieser grausamen Realität in die romantische Welt des Kitsches und der Ideale. Ihre Träume sind Illustriertenträume, Träume von einem Menschen, an dessen Seite sie aus den Widrigkeiten des Alltags entlassen werden in eine Welt, die nur aus Liebe und Romantik besteht. Nicht die Homosexuellen sind pervers, sondern die Situation, in der sie zu leben haben.
Gays don't want to be gay, but be as bourgeois and kitschy as the average citizen. They are longing for a cozy little home in which they can inconspicuously live together with their honest and faithful boyfriend in a de facto marriage. The ideal partner has to be clean, honest and natural; an unspent and fresh boy, as kind and playful as a shepherd dog.
Because gays are regarded as disturbed and inferior by the philistine, they try to be even more philistine in order to lessen their guilt feelings with an excess of bourgeois virtue. They are politically passive and behave conservatively in return for not being beaten to death.
Gays are ashamed of their predisposition because centuries of Christian education imprinted a sense of being pigs into their minds. That's why they flee far away from this cruel reality into the romantic world of kitsch and ideals. Their dreams are those of glossy magazines, dreams of a person with whom they are released from everyday life's adversities into a world that consists entirely of love and romance. It is not the homosexuals who are perverted, but the situation in which they have to live.
Die Mehrzahl der Homosexuellen gleicht dem Typ des unauffälligen Sohnes aus gutem Hause, der den größten Wert darauf legt, männlich zu erscheinen. Sein größter Feind ist die auffällige Tunte. Tunten sind nicht so verlogen, wie der spießige Schwule. Tunten übertreiben ihre schwulen Eigenschaften und machen sich über sie lustig. Sie stellen damit die Normen unserer Gesellschaft in Frage und zeigen, was es bedeutet, schwul zu sein.
The majority of homosexuals resemble the type of the inconspicuous son of good family, who attaches greatest importance to appear virile. His greatest enemy are flamboyant faggots. Faggots are not as phoney as the bourgeois gay. Faggots exaggerate their gay attributes and make light of them. By doing so, they question the norms of our society and show what it means to be gay.
- Murray, Images in the Dark, p. 107
- Murray, Images in the Dark, p. 108
- "Germany`s most famous gay rights activist: Rosa von Praunheim". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2019-02-21.
- Halle, Randall. "From Perverse to Queer: Rosa von Praunheim's Films in the Liberation Movements of the Federal Republic", in German Cinema since Unification, ed. David Clarke (New York: Continuum, 2006), ISBN 0-8264-9106-5
- Kuzniar, Alice A, The Queer German Cinema, Stanford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8047-3995-1
- Murray, Raymond. Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video. TLA Publications, 1994, ISBN 1-880707-01-2